By Baba Sillah
Thirteen years after he was assassinated, the killers of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara have been revealed. Hydara, the editor and co-owner of The Point newspaper, was shot dead in the night of 16 December 2004. Since then the identities of his killers have never been publicly revealed and no one has been prosecuted for his death.
However, investigations carried out by The Standard newspaper have revealed the identities of his alleged killers and chilling details of his death.
Following the ouster of President Jammeh in January and the subsequent coming into power of President Barrow, the state ordered investigations into the cases of disappearances and deaths registered under Jammeh’s rule.
Among the more notable cases was the assassination of Mr Hydara. Jammeh’s government had denied culpability. However, The Standard is privy to information which indicates that the former president sanctioned the killing and it was carried out by his henchmen, the Junglers.
Some of these Junglers have been arrested and are in the custody of the Gambian authorities. During interrogations, they revealed that Tumbul Tamba (now late), a chief Jungler, led the team that was sent out to track and kill Mr Hydara and that after the completion of their mission, President Jammeh reportedly gave out dollars amounting to D50,000 to be given to each.
Malick Jatta, a Jungler, who was part of the assassination team reportedly told investigators that three teams headed by Tamba, Kawsu Camara alias ‘Bombardé’ and Manlafi Corr (now late) and including himself, Alieu Jeng (under custody) and Sanna Manjang (at large) set out in three Benz taxis (190, V-boot and 300) that night for the mission. He said once Tamba espied Deyda, he dashed into his vehicle and the others followed in chase.
In a copy of the transcript of his statement obtained by The Standard he explained in detail: “We followed up [Deyda’s] vehicle to just after the police garage; he [Tamba] drove side by side of [Deyda’s] car and ordered us to shoot the driver [Deyda]. We were all reluctant to do so, he [Tamba] continue given [sic] instruction until we all make a shot to the driver then the other two taxi [sic] where [sic] behind.
“From there we drove back to Kanilai. The next day Tumbul came with some currencies in dollar which he said was from the president as a gift which amounts to more than D50,000.00 as my share.
“From there, I came to Kombo and heard that a journalist was killed around the police garage who is Deyda Hydara. Upon getting that information, I went to State House to meet Major [Kalipha] Bajinka because he is the one who [initially] sent me to Kanilai. He asked me whether our mission is accomplished, I replied yes, he bend [sic] his head down and said you should not have done this…”
Meanwhile, the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), supported by International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) will hold a forum in honour of victims of freedom of expression violation in The Gambia as part of events marking the commemoration of the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Deyda Hydara this Saturday.
The event will be organised in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Deyda Hydara Family, The Point Newspaper, Article 19 and Victims Centre.
A press release from the GPU stated: “This year’s event will also highlight the cases of many media practitioners who have suffered the brutalities of the former government. The day will kick off with a procession from KMC grounds to the site of his shooting, before marching down to Law Faculty” where the symposium will be held.